ITANAGAR, Oct 21: North Eastern Warriors showed great strategic acumen in the players’ auction of the Vodafone Premier Badminton League Season 3 to emerge as one of the best gainers by signing up players, who are well capable of winning the title for them.
The team owned by T K Engineering Consortium Pvt Ltd is a new entrant and it is the first team from the Northeast region to have joined the PBL bandwagon.
Even though the season has not yet started, the Warriors have already impressed everyone with their performance in the players’ auction and used their money smartly to end as the lowest spending franchisee.
They went about their cherry-picking business very calmly landing their targets with rather ease. The team not only is capable of challenging for the title but will also help in popularizing badminton in this part of the country.
The team helmed by former Indian Olympian Nikhil Kanetkar has picked up young Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei for Rs 52 lakh as their icon player. Wang Tzu is currently ranked 10th in the world and is a former world junior champion. He will be complemented in the men’s singles category by India’s own Ajay Jayaram who was bought for Rs 44 lakh. Ajay, ranked 20 in the world has been one of the mainstays for years now for India in the men’s singles category and will be a huge draw for the local fans. He was the second most successful men singles player in last season of PBL and helped his side Mumbai Rockets to the final. His team would be hoping for him to repeat his performance this year as well.
Nikhil Kanetkar, coach of the Warriors was very satisfied with the squad that they picked up.
“We were very clear with our thought process and knew exactly who we wanted to buy in the auction. We are happy that we could land most our targets and now we are looking forward to the season,” he said after the Players’ Auction.
While they have a very reliable player in their ranks in the men’s singles category, their men’s doubles acquisition will be a matter of envy to all the teams. They brought Shin Baek Cheol of Korea for Rs 55 lakh; their highest paid player. Cheol is Korean legend and have won numerous titles including the BWF World Championships. He will be paired alongside his compatriot Kim Gi Jung in the men’s doubles category, Jung who was bought for Rs 30 lakh is a legend in his own right and has own medals in BWF World Championships, Asian Games, Thomas to name a few.
“It is really a good team and I am happy to be part of the North Eastern Warriors. And also the presence of Nikhil will be a huge plus for me as I have known him for a long time and it will be great to work with him. I think our biggest strength will be the men’s doubles but having said that we also have good depth in the other categories as well and if we can get rolling from the start, I think we will have a great chance of going the distance,” Ajay Jayaram said.
While their men’s singles and men’s doubles will give them a great advantage going into the season, they made sure to beef up the other departments as well. They have snapped up Michelle Li of Canada (Rs 15 lakh) and young Indian player in RuthvikaShivani (Rs 9 lakh) in the women’s singles category. Michelle, who is of Chinese Origin is the reigning CWG Champion and will be looking to pack a punch in the tournament.
They have also acquired the services of PrajaktaSawant (Rs 7 lakh) and Sanyogita Ghorpade (Rs 1 lakh), who will play their trade in the mixed doubles category.
The 24-day league which will be held under the aegis of Badminton Association of India and conducted by Sportzlive Entertainment, official license holder of the league will see the eight teams, namely Delhi Acers, Mumbai Rockets, Bengaluru Blasters, Chennai Smashers, Hyderabad Hunters, North Eastern Warriors, Ahmedabad Smash Masters and Awadhe Warriors in action. The PBL Season 3 will be telecast live on the Star Sports Network and streamed live on Hotstar.